I will definitely make/purchase a sponge filter! That seems like what is stressed the most and will be done. As for the tank, I think I will just purchase a plain, empty ten gallon from Petco for $14.00. The substrate will probably be Eco-Complete, because I have never used sand before, it will be better for the plants, and I heard that it will help them grow quicker than just sand. The lighting is still a question, although I am debating purchasing a clip-on fixture from Lowe's ($8.00) and a 6500K CFL bulb for $5.00, also at Lowe's. The filtration will be a sponge filter unless you recommend more. The heater will be a 50W submersible from Petco. The tank will not have a hood, which I would prefer because I think that they look better without, and the plants will be as described above. As for the plants/shrimp/snails, I have tried looking through TPT, but have not found many people with them, and the people with them charge more than Aquabid.
Any advise on cycling a tank? I know I need to test the water and so on, but what can I use, that is relatively cheap (the theme of this post), so that I can cycle the tank quicker? I have heard of using fish, is this true? Can I put the plants in the tank while it is cycling? What about the snails? Thank-you all for your help!